Education and Counseling for Individuals Affected by Autism Spectrum Disorders


Aspergers and the "Fixated Personality" Type

In previous posts, we talked about the “avoidant personality,” the “approach personality,” and the “disruptive personality” in Aspergers children, teens and adults. In this post, we will examine the fourth and final type called the “fixated personality.”

The fixated personality type can be characterized by a preoccupation with orderliness, perfectionism, and the need to control one’s environment (e.g., to have things in a particular order).

Some of the symptoms of the fixated personality type may include:
  • compulsion to make lists and/or schedules
  • feelings of excessive doubt and caution
  • obsessive need for cleanliness
  • perfectionism (that may sometimes interfere with task-completion)
  • preoccupation with order and organization
  • preoccupation with remembering and paying attention to minute details and facts
  • rigid following of rules and regulations
  • rigidity or inflexibility of beliefs
  • stubbornness
  • unreasonable insistence that others submit to his way of doing things

Some of the specific behavioral manifestations of the fixated personality type among Aspergers children and teenagers may include:
  • repeatedly checking homework
  • cleaning rituals
  • counting rituals
  • grooming rituals (e.g., hand washing, showering, teeth brushing)
  • hoarding and collecting things
  • ordering or arranging objects
  • repeating rituals (e.g., going in and out of doorways, needing to move through spaces in a special way, rereading, erasing, rewriting)
  • rituals to prevent harming self or others
  • rituals to undo contact with a "contaminated" person or object
  • touching rituals

Parents can look for the following possible signs of the fixated personality type:
  • continual expressions of fear that something terrible will happen
  • dramatic increase in laundry
  • persistent expressions of fear of illness
  • sudden drop in test grades
  • exceptionally long amount of time spent getting ready for bed
  • high, unexplained utility bills
  • holes erased through test papers and homework
  • raw, chapped hands from constant washing
  • reluctance to leave the house
  • requests for family members to repeat strange phrases or keep answering the same question
  • unproductive hours spent doing homework
  • unusually high rate of soap or paper towel usage

Environmental and stress factors can trigger fixated personality traits. These can include ordinary developmental transitions (e.g., starting school) as well as significant losses or changes (e.g., death of a loved one, moving to a different home or city).

It can be helpful to keep family routines as normal as possible, and for all family members to learn strategies to help the Aspergers youngster. It is also important to not let the “fixations” be the boss of the house and regular family activities. Giving in to fixations does not make them go away.

“Fixated” Aspies become less fixated at different rates, so try to avoid any day-to-day comparisons and recognize and praise any small improvements. Keep in mind that it's the disorder that is causing the problem, not the child. The more that personal criticism can be avoided, the better.

Treatment for the fixated personality type can involve the following:
  1. Behavior therapy: Discussing with a psychotherapist ways of changing compulsions into healthier, productive behaviors. An effective form of this therapy has been found to be cognitive analytic therapy.
  2. Cognitive behavioral therapy: A systematic approach to changing unwanted thoughts, feelings and behaviors.
  3. Psychopharmacology: A psychiatrist may be able to prescribe medication to facilitate self-management and also enable more productive participation in other therapies.
  4. Psychotherapy: Discussion with a trained counselor or psychotherapist who understands the condition.

The Aspergers Comprehensive Handbook


Anonymous said...

When he played with Thomas the train, God help you if you knocked into his perfectly laid tracks.

Anonymous said...

My son would line up the silverware in descending order. If one became askew, he would get very upset. He also had patterns of walking on sidewalks and tiled floors.

Meltdown city it would be for my child in that scenerio.

Perfectionism. My son is 10. He wants to do everything perfect. He gets very mad if he has to erase while writing. He got a rip stick and spent hours on. We had lots of meltdowns about the rip stick.

Anonymous said...

So glad to find this group. Perfectionism in every aspect of a child's life can't ever be attained. Thus, my children's issues are magnified from daily tasks such as eating, brushing teeth, or combing hair. However, super-strict scheduling has helped them to function much better. I am a mom of 7, 5 have been formally diagnosed with Asperger's.

Anonymous said...

...erasing, when my son was in 5th grade - he put a hole in his paper - ended up in a rage - and it was a mess... We began homeschooling shortly after that incident - been a great thing for him and for me!

My child has been rejected by his peers, ridiculed and bullied !!!

Social rejection has devastating effects in many areas of functioning. Because the Aspergers child tends to internalize how others treat him, rejection damages self-esteem and often causes anxiety and depression. As the child feels worse about himself and becomes more anxious and depressed – he performs worse, socially and intellectually.

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How to Prevent Meltdowns in Aspergers Children

Meltdowns are not a pretty sight. They are somewhat like overblown temper tantrums, but unlike tantrums, meltdowns can last anywhere from ten minutes to over an hour. When it starts, the Asperger's child is totally out-of-control. When it ends, both you and the Asperger’s child are totally exhausted. But... don’t breathe a sigh of relief yet. At the least provocation, for the remainder of that day -- and sometimes into the next - the meltdown can return in full force.

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Parenting Defiant Aspergers Teens

Although Aspergers is at the milder end of the autism spectrum, the challenges parents face when disciplining a teenager with Aspergers are more difficult than they would be with an average teen. Complicated by defiant behavior, the Aspergers teen is at risk for even greater difficulties on multiple levels – unless the parents’ disciplinary techniques are tailored to their child's special needs.

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Aspergers Children “Block-Out” Their Emotions

Parenting children with Aspergers and HFA can be a daunting task. In layman’s terms, Aspergers is a developmental disability that affects the way children develop and understand the world around them, and is directly linked to their senses and sensory processing. This means they often use certain behaviors to block out their emotions or response to pain.

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Older Teens and Young Adult Children With Aspergers Still Living At Home

Your older teenager or young “adult child” isn’t sure what to do, and he is asking you for money every few days. How do you cut the purse strings and teach him to be independent? Parents of teens with Aspergers face many problems that other parents do not. Time is running out for teaching their adolescent how to become an independent adult. As one mother put it, "There's so little time, yet so much left to do."

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Living with an Aspergers Spouse/Partner

Research reveals that the divorce rate for people with Aspergers is around 80%. Why so high!? The answer may be found in how the symptoms of Aspergers affect intimate relationships. People with Aspergers often find it difficult to understand others and express themselves. They may seem to lose interest in people over time, appear aloof, and are often mistaken as self-centered, vain individuals.

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Online Parent Coaching for Parents of Asperger's Children

If you’re the parent of a child with Aspergers or High-Functioning Autism, you know it can be a struggle from time to time. Your child may be experiencing: obsessive routines; problems coping in social situations; intense tantrums and meltdowns; over-sensitivity to sounds, tastes, smells and sights; preoccupation with one subject of interest; and being overwhelmed by even the smallest of changes.

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Unraveling The Mystery Behind Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism

Parents, teachers, and the general public have a lot of misconceptions of Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism. Many myths abound, and the lack of knowledge is both disturbing and harmful to kids and teens who struggle with the disorder.

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My Aspergers Child - Syndicated Content